Heard on the Hill: Well Ahead of Her Time

Posted October 30, 2011 at 7:16pm

If HOH were around 70 years ago, we would have been writing about Cissy Patterson.

At least, that’s what we’ve gathered from the latest book by Amanda Smith.

Smith — daughter of former Ireland Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith and niece of President John F. Kennedy — wrote “Newspaper Titan” about Patterson, publisher of the Washington Times-Herald.

Patterson was the Washington, D.C., socialite of her time, hobnobbing with newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, butting heads with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and getting Czar Nicholas II and President William Howard Taft to intervene in her divorce.

Smith first learned about Patterson while editing her book about her grandfather, “Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy.”

“She was this zany socialite who bought herself a newspaper with the widest circulation in Washington,” Smith said.

And in Patterson fashion, Smith was the center of a book party at the Washington Club (which happens to be the former Patterson residence, right on Dupont Circle) last week.

The soiree was hosted by Vicki Reggie Kennedy, wife of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Others attending included Smith’s mother and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

“I think that Cissy would appreciate that Washington is coming out to celebrate her one last time,” Smith said.